On “Placental Consciousness”

Ballard’s view of Consciousness

The following is a quote from the author J. G. Ballard in his book The
Drowned World
which I find particularly relevant to my interests in
myth, psychology, “dark muses,” and art works originating from our
inner void:

“The brief span of an individual life is misleading. Each one of us is as
old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are
tributaries of the great sea of its total memory. The uterine odyssey
of the growing foetus recapitulates the entire evolutionary past, and
its central nervous system is a coded time scale, each nexus of
neurones and each spinal level marking a symbolic station, a unit of
neuronic time.”

In this book Ballard describes a future in which global warming has
made almost all of the planet uninhabitable except for the arctic and
antarctic regions. Since the polar ice caps have melted, much of the
earth is a boiling lagoon, filled with primeval life forms. Human
consciousness, like the plants and animals of the external world,
seems to be drifting towards a prenatal,placental state , a solipsism
in which the boundaries between dream and reality are dissolving.
This world is an autistic oasis, each individual in his/her own oceanic
universe. Such is the world as depicted in the works of Expressionistic
artists–the painter Edvard Munch, the poet Sylvia Plath, the films
of David Lynch, as well as the ancient shamanic maskmakers. These
works summon the urges, the wild, tangled, seductively ensnaring
roots of our earliest memories.

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Writings by Alison Armstrong

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